Making the Indian higher education system future ready

November 2009 | Higher Education

The Indian higher education system has witnessed significant expansion in recent years, both in terms of the number of institutions as well as the student enrollment. India has more than 400 universities and over 20,000 colleges, of which almost half were set up in the last decade. Student enrollment has crossed 129 million in 2007-08, clocking a compounded annual growth rate of 6.2% since 1985-86. The private sector has enthusiastically participated in the growth of the higher education system with about 63% of the total higher education institutions being private unaided institutions.

Though these trends communicate a positive picture, the Indian higher education system ails from significant structural shortcomings and faces huge challenges in meeting future expectations. Despite having more higher education institutions than any other country in the world, hardly any feature in the leading institutions in the world. At about 12%, our GER is almost half of that of China, and lower than many developing countries. Inequity is also pervasive in the system, with the GERs of women and backward castes being much lower than the national average. From where it stands today, we have identified five areas critical to making the Indian Higher Education system future ready. We believe that financial innovation, innovative use of information and communication technologies (ICT), reinvigorating research, thrust on vocational education & training (VET), and regulatory reforms are potential ‘Game changers’ for the Indian higher education system.

Given this backdrop, we have identified certain challenges across these five areas and outlined specific recommendations to improve upon the gaps and strengthen the foundation of the Indian higher education system.

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